I’m feeling really guilty – I have not blogged for a full week. You would therefore think that I must be bursting with things to write about – if only that were true. I have spent three days in London at a conference and exhibition about technology and education. I thought that this would give me lots to write about but, so far, it hasn’t. I think that this is partly due to the fact that the whole experience has left me somewhat confused. In some ways this links in with my previous post about eBooks.
We live in a technological world. Whatever we might think if all computers stopped working tomorrow we would find ourselves in a mess. Our problem is that we are living in a time of rapid change. We don’t want the old TV, with just three channels in black and white, back but the idea of 3D TV is scary. Emails are a pain but would we go back to sharing information by posting letters. The mobile phone means that we are always contactable but we can’t imagine life without one. It is difficult to see how you could go through the day without technology impacting upon you in some way or another.
Change is both exciting and frightening, often at the same time. Despite what some may describe as ‘the good old days’ there aren’t many who would want to turn the clock back. Yet when new ideas and technology are first introduced there is often a lot of opposition. It’s always been like this, there were many who fought against Gutenberg’s printing press. While people might want change they don’t always want progress. Henry Ford once said that if he had asked his customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse. We don’t know what we want in the future but if someone told me that in 5 years time my computer would be obsolete and I would have a screen built into my glasses and be able to write this post just by talking I would probably say, “No thanks. I like the feel of my fingers on the keyboard.”
The confusion that I talked about earlier comes from the frightening fact that this technological change that is impacting on our daily lives is missing out one crucial place – our schools. In many ways our children are being taught in ways that have changed very little over the last 60 years. We often ban children from taking their mobile phones into school, the idea of gaming devices being used in schools to enhance learning is abhorrent to many, computers are often old-fashioned, stuck in ICT suites and rarely used. School authorities block websites like YouTube so that they can’t be accessed by adults and children within the school (I was in a school this morning and access to blogspot blogs was denied. Incidentally the decision to filter this was not the schools.) Yet the children walk out of school and can then instantly use a wide range of digital devices and access a host of websites. It is no wonder that many children find school irrelevant.
I believe that the problems linked to the environment and global recessions created by people of my generation will have to be solved by our young people. Our children are the one’s who are going to have to solve the world. We have the technology to help them do it but are we teaching them how to use that technology? At the conference I attended someone said, “We need to reboot our education system.”